The Pittsburgh Steelers are once again holding their breath after watching Ben Roethlisberger go down with an injury.
This one came in the fourth quarter of their 38-35 win over the Oakland Raiders, a game in which Roethlisberger had thrown for 334 yards and two touchdowns before suffering what's being called a foot injury early in the final quarter. He suffered the injury as he was sacked by Raiders defensive end Aldon Smith. Roethlisberger sat on the ground favoring his foot before he had to hobble off the field with assistance from teammates; he was later carted to the locker room.
Roethlisberger's return was initially ruled as questionable, but it was pretty obvious he wasn't coming back after being carted off with a look of concern on his face. Backup quarterback Landry Jones replaced Roethlisberger once he was hurt. The team later announced that Roethlisberger had left Heinz Field to be evaluated for a foot injury, meaning he may already be on his way to get x-rays and/or an MRI.
If Roethlisberger is out for significant time, it will have a huge effect on the AFC. With Roethlisberger, the Steelers would be in great position to eventually win one of the AFC's two Wild Card spots. However, no Roethlisberger means there's probably no hope of a playoff berth. And, with the Bengals' potentially winning the division, you'd probably rather see a team like the Buffalo Bills or New York Jets come into Paul Brown Stadium than that of Big Ben-led offense.
Adding to that, the Bengals still have one game left against the Steelers in Week 14. At the rate the AFC playoff picture is playing out, every win is going to be critical for the Bengals as they look to earn one of the top two seeds and get a first-round bye in the postseason. While there's no such thing as a guaranteed win in the NFL, playing Pittsburgh without Roethlisberger would make this one of the likelier wins left on the schedule for Cincinnati.
And if nothing else, it would kill what very little chance the Steelers had of catching the Bengals in the AFC North race. Roethlisberger had just returned to the lineup last week in a 16-10 loss to the Bengals after suffering a left knee injury against the St. Louis Rams in Week 3.
It's already been a brutal season for the Steelers on the injury front. They just lost All-Pro running back Le'Veon Bell to a season-ending MCL injury last week. Roethlisberger returned to the lineup after suffering a left knee injury against the St. Louis Rams in Week 3. These are unfortunate injuries to see, and even to a division rival, you never want to see injuries happen.
Who knows how the AFC North race would have finished had these injuries not occurred, but it's safe to say they'll prevent this from being a tight race as Cincinnati has firm control of the division. We'll keep you posted on Roethlisberger's injury as more updates become available, as well as how long he may be out of the lineup.
Initial reports are that Roethlisberger suffered a mid-foot sprain that may keep him out 1-2 weeks. The Steelers host the Browns in Week 10 before heading off into their bye week before heading to Seattle in Week 11. It's safe to say this injury doesn't look like it's going to be too costly for Pittsburgh.